Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “friend.” Another repeat prompt—not the first—but coincidentally it’s back exactly one year later. Here’s what I wrote about “friend” last year.
Facebook has ruined the word “Friend.”
First of all, it is not a verb. You do not friend people, you meet them—preferably in person—and over time, if you find enough in common between you to make connections, a friendship will grow organically.
Second, “defriend” and “unfriend” are not words. I do not defriend someone to make him my unfriend, or unfriend someone to make her my defriend. If a friendship ends, it is usually through inaction. Except for a couple of Seinfeld episodes, no one ever “breaks up” with a friend. Friendships don’t get killed, they die through neglect.
But worst of all, Facebook abuses of the meaning of the word “friend.” In real life, we have layers of friendship. Best friends, good friends, friends-of-friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people-we-know-but-don’t-think-too-much-about, people-we-nod-to-politely-as-we-pass-them, etc.
But in Facebook, everyone is a potential friend. All it takes is a friend request …
It was a real-life friend that got me on Facebook in the first place. And early on, the people I connected with—often after many years out-of-touch—were real-life friends too. But then I started connecting with people I only knew online. That’s when it got a little weird, and a few of these virtual “friendships” had to end.
But there’s a good part too, and maybe it’s proof that a tool is only as good as what you do with it.
I’ve since met some of the people I once knew only through social media. I’ve gotten a chance to talk to them face to face, if only for a short time. And it’s been wonderful. No, they’re not really “friends” in the same way people I’ve known for years are, but they are colleagues and, in many cases, fellow disciples of Jesus too.
Jesus said “I call you friends.” Maybe we can call each other friends, and—unlike Facebook—have it mean something.